Japanese Curry with Chicken Katsu

Vermont Curry

I went to Beverly Hills High School Not West Beverly, but just Beverly. We didn’t hang out at the beach or at the mall like you might except. We hung out mainly in a Japanese mini-mall. There were two of them actually, right across the street from each other on Sawtelle, just north of Olympic. On the East side of the street was a giant three-story mini-mall. You don’t see this kind of thing on the east coast much. The East mini-mall had a video arcade, a karaoke bar, a Japanese super market, a comic book store, a pastry shop and  most importantly, a convenience store that would except one of our fake IDs (sorry mom). We seldom visited the East mini-mall. Only a handful of times, did we pluck up the courage and the permission to borrow a car from one of our parents past midnight to do karaoke, usually for one of our birthdays. But no, it was the West mini-mall that we frequented, almost every Saturday. It was usually for lunch at Hurry Curry of Tokyo. Sometimes we went during the week for a boba or a quick study study break- we were nerds; our classes were hard and our parents were strict.

So Hurry Curry was a sort of dumpy, medium-priced restaurant that specialized in one thing: Japanese Curry. When we started going there, I think it was $8.95 for a set of curry, chicken katsu and a salad. Now, it’s about $14.95. My parents think it’s disgusting, but I obviously have a certain nostalgia for the place and I recommend you go if you’re ever in Los Angeles.

So let’s talk about the curry. Japanese curry, if you’ve never had it isn’t what you’d expect. It’s pretty sweet and creamy- almost like a turmeric-heavy Indian curry mixed with a Thai masamam curry. It’s a strange and beautiful flavor and comes in many different spice levels and with different meats. My favorite is a carrot, potato curry with Chicken Katsu, but I’ll show you how to make it vegetarian as well. You’ll definitely want to serve this with some sticky rice and a little pool of grated daikon raddish.

You’ll also need a great curry base. Japanese curry is like what Hamburger helper is to Americans. It’s easy, fast, delicious and not very healthy. Although Hamburger helper is disgusting in my opinion. You can find these boxes in any Japanese supermarket. In Manhattan, try: M2M (East Village), Han Au Reum (Korea Town) or Sunrise (Soho). I’ve tried a few other brands (like Golden Curry and Java) but Vermont is definitely my favorite. It’s quite sweet and you’ll definitely want to have your hot sauce nearby.

What’s in the box? Mostly flavor, some MSG and other chemicals. Just don’t read the ingredients list. While a lot of Japanese food is healthy, clean and beautiful, Japanese people LOVE their fried chicken and nothing is better than fried chicken. So this is essentially Japanese fried chicken with barbecue sauce. So now that I’ve got your attention, here’s the recipe.

DSC_4720

*Note: You’ll notice that the curry comes in solid blocks, almost like a tray of ice cubes. Each ice cube is one serving, so for 6 servings use 6 cubes (1/2 the box) and 3 cups water. For 3 servings, use 1/4 of the box and 1 1/2 cups water.

Chicken Katsu Curry

Serves 6 (or 2 people with awesome lunches for the week)

You will need:

Cooked sticky rice, recipe here (tripple the recipe)

2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 large potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

15 baby carrots, sliced into medallions

1/2 box Vermont Curry*

3 cups water

3 large whole boneless chicken breasts or 6 smaller tenders

1/4 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup panko flakes

3/4 cup vegetable oil (canola, soy, grapeseed, olive will do)

salt and pepper

daikon radish (optional)

Method:

1. Grate the daikon radish on the small, spiky nobs of your box grater. And make the rice. 

2. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the garlic and onion for 1 minute. Add the carrots and poatato and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of water and 1 curry paste block (1/2 the box or 6 servings). Stir to combine and then bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Using a meat pounder or a skillet, flatten your chicken breasts so they are about a half inch thick. Set up your dipping stations: a plate of flour, beaten eggs and then panko flakes.

4. In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil so you have about 1/4 inch in the pan -add more as needed. Coat each piece of Chicken in flour, then dip in the egg and then the panko flakes. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat until golden brown- it should be perfectly cooked and juicy inside, but check before eating.

5. Drain each piece on a paper towel. Serve on a plate with 1/2 cup of sticky rice. It’s not shown in the picture but I highly recommend you cut each cutlet into strips before serving. It’s always served that way, before the curry goes on top. Using a sharp knife with each cutlet laying horizontal  make 1 inch vertical cuts, so you have strips about 1 inch x 3 inches- then smother with curry and serve with grated daikon.

DSC_4724

Vegetarian Curry

Serves 6 (or 2 people with awesome lunches for the week)

You will need:

Cooked sticky rice, recipe here (tripple the recipe)

2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 large potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

15 baby carrots, sliced into medallions

1/2 box Vermont Curry*

3 cups water

1 box medium firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

daikon radish (optional)

Method:

1. Grate the daikon radish on the small, spiky nobs of your box grater. And make the rice. 

2. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the garlic and onion for 1 minute. Add the carrots, tofu and poatato and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of water and 1 curry paste block (1/2 the box or 6 servings). Stir to combine and then bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Serve over stick rice with daikon.

2 thoughts on “Japanese Curry with Chicken Katsu

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